"You need a total joint replacement."
Anyone who has ever received that pronouncement from his or her doctor knows it immediately spawns a flood of questions: Will it hurt? How long will I be off my feet? Will I have to go to physical therapy?
Answering questions like those is a major focus of the new Total Joint Center that opened at St. Elizabeth Edgewood this September. Research shows that the better prepared and educated patients are for total joint surgery, the healthier and happier they are in the long run.
St. Elizabeth Healthcare has long been a leader in orthopaedic care, capturing the coveted HealthGrades award for Best in Greater Cincinnati for Joint Replacement Surgery for the last three years. The new Total Joint Center is a continuation of St. Elizabeth’s commitment to excellence for the rapidly growing number of patients who need joint replacements annually.
Almost 800,000 Americans undergo surgery annually to replace everything from hips and knees to ankles and shoulders. Research from those patients has proven that the better educated and prepared they were for their surgical and post-surgical experiences, the less likely they were to suffer complications and other setbacks. That’s why patients at St. Elizabeth Healthcare begin their experiences with the Total Joint Center well before their surgeries take place.
Better Preparation = Healthier, Happier Patients
Approximately two weeks before a patient undergoes joint replacement surgery at St. Elizabeth Edgewood, he or she is invited to attend an hour-long education and preparation session right on the floor where he or she will recover after surgery. Patients not only get a chance to see the spacious private rooms and physical therapy center where they’ll receive post-operative care, but they’ll also have a chance to meet some of the professionals who will be helping them, says Total Joint Center Coordinator Donna Haggard, R.N.
"In the patient education classes, we’ll provide an overview of what they can expect from the time they first schedule their surgeries until weeks after they leave the hospital," Haggard says. "They’ll learn what to do before surgery, what to expect that day and all about the services we offer and everyone who will be helping them, from physical therapy to care coordination. We’ve found that a lot of people go into surgery with unrealistic expectations about what will happen, and that can really lower their overall satisfaction. This program places a big emphasis on education, because if people know what to expect, we believe they’ll be better informed, better prepared, happier and healthier in the long run."
At the preparation class, St. Elizabeth total joint replacement patients also receive booklets detailing the answers to the enormous variety of questions and concerns regarding their particular types of joint replacement. They can then consult these printed references as questions arrive at home or even in the hospital, where all joint replacement patients now also receive post-operative therapy right down the hall from their rooms, in the spacious physical and occupational therapy facility.
State-of-the-Art Facility Puts New Joints to Work Fast
The seventh-floor center – with a wall of windows overlooking the rolling hills of Edgewood and Crestview Hills – includes five treatment bays, an array of therapy equipment and occupational therapy areas where patients can learn to maneuver around bathrooms and kitchens well before they must do so in their own homes.
"This facility is particularly nice because it allows patients to receive the individual therapy they need in a group atmosphere," Haggard says. "There will be a number of patients working in the facility simultaneously, which allows people going through similar experiences to make friends and get the therapy they need in a more supportive atmosphere."
That vital support continues after discharge. St. Elizabeth’s Care Coordination Team works closely with patients in the hospital to ensure they’ll get precisely the kind of care they need after leaving the hospital for home or rehabilitation.
Regardless of where a joint replacement patient goes after leaving St. Elizabeth, Haggard says all patients are welcome and encouraged to contact her with their concerns or questions. In fact, Haggard calls every patient after he or she has left the hospital to answer questions and ensure he or she has everything needed for complete recovery.
As Total Joint Center Medical Director and Commonwealth Orthopaedics Surgeon Dr. Matthew Hummel puts it, he, Haggard and all of the dozens of professionals working at the center are dedicated to one goal: To make the best in orthopaedics better.
"We already provide high-quality care for the joint replacement populations, as evidenced by our outcomes and the recognition we’ve received. But, these new strategies and improvements of the facility at St. Elizabeth Edgewood will take us to an even higher level of excellence in joint replacement," Hummel says. "The Total Joint Center at St. Elizabeth Edgewood offers the people of our region a complete one-stop shop for joint replacement surgery and care, where medical professionals dedicated to this specialty can continue to work to elevate the program to even higher levels of excellence. That’s a huge benefit for this whole region."